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Strong first half lifts SDSU over Alabama State

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Strong first half lifts SDSU over Alabama State

Landon Dierks

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The South Dakota State men’s basketball team led for all but 31 seconds Thursday night as it earned a 78-61 win over Alabama State University.

In ASU’s visit to Brookings, last season the Jacks rained in 17 three-pointers in a 94-63 victory. It was the inside play, not long range shooting, that propelled SDSU to a victory this time around.

The Jacks shot 7-for-22 on three-pointers, including just 1-for-7 in the first half Thursday night.

Senior forward Mike Daum notched a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds and led SDSU in both.

Offensive balance was key in the victory as three other Jackrabbits joined Daum in double-digit scoring.

“I think we’re going to be a group that all year long is going to have multiple guys in double figures,” SDSU head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “… I think there will be different guys on different nights that step up in (a scoring) capacity.”

Following a 31-point performance against Grand Canyon University on Tuesday, sophomore guard David Jenkins Jr. was held to just 6 points on 2-of-7 shooting.

The Jackrabbits made the most of their many trips to the free throw line against the Hornets after going just 16-for-26 at the charity stripe Tuesday night against Grand Canyon University.

Daum led the way going 7-for-7 as SDSU shot 23-for-25 as a team, including a 19-for-21 mark in the first half.

Senior guards Tevin King and Skyler Flatten and redshirt freshman forward Matt Dentlinger were the other Jacks in double figures.

For Dentlinger, it was his second double-digit scoring effort in as many games wearing a Jackrabbit uniform.

“[Dentlinger] has passed the ball well, finished (at the rim) and rebounded extremely well for us,” Otzelberger said. “I’m really pleased with Matt … He’s worked his tail off and he’s producing for us.”

After a made three point jumper by ASU sophomore guard Jacoby Ross with 15:33 to go in the first half knotted the game at eight points apiece, the Jacks began to slowly build a lead.

Ross’ sharpshooting kept the Hornets in the game, but SDSU used an 11-2 run to take a 54-38 lead into the locker room.

“We traded buckets a lot in the first half,” Dentlinger said. “To go on a run to end it really helped give us a boost.”

SDSU expanded the lead to as many as 24, but ASU fought back in a low-scoring second half and cut the lead to 13 with under 6 minutes to play. Strong defense helped close the door for the Jacks, as they allowed only four points over the final 5:42.

Flatten attributed the Jacks’ low-scoring second half to a lack of focus.

“We weren’t nearly as focused as we should’ve been (in the second half),” he said. “We got that lead and trading buckets and we can’t do that. It’s not how we’re built as a team.”

The Jacks will look to notch their 23rd consecutive home victory when they host Bemidji State at 4 p.m. Saturday, November 10 in Frost Arena for their third game in five days.

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Strong first half lifts SDSU over Alabama State